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Not so Swiss? Swiss chalets: the end of a myth

It’s been a shock: the wooden chalet – so long a perfect symbol of Swissness – has been found to be an import designed by foreign architects and encouraged by alpine tourism.

Swiss researcher Daniel Stockhammer has concluded that foreign architects, mainly Germans, first developed the traditional Swiss woodwork cottage of the 19th century.

“The emergence of a Swiss style of woodwork was accompanied by a distinct turning point in the country’s engagement with national architecture, as architects ... began to mine generations of traditional woodwork knowledge for their academic research,” he wrote. “The Swiss style existed abroad before being known here.”

The style – as can be seen in all its glory in our gallery – was meant to appeal to alpine travellers, Stockhammer argued in his thesis at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ).

All Images: Keystone and RDB, Text: Samuel Jaberg, 

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